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Lab Chip. 2008 Dec;8(12):1999-2014. doi: 10.1039/b811314a. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Towards non- and minimally instrumented, microfluidics-based diagnostic devices.

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Diagnostic Development Group, PATH, 1455 NW Leary Way, Seattle, WA 98107, USA.


In many health care settings, it is uneconomical, impractical, or unaffordable to maintain and access a fully equipped diagnostics laboratory. Examples include home health care, developing-country health care, and emergency situations in which first responders are dealing with pandemics or biowarfare agent release. In those settings, fully disposable diagnostic devices that require no instrument support, reagent, or significant training are well suited. Although the only such technology to have found widespread adoption so far is the immunochromatographic rapid assay strip test, microfluidics holds promise to expand the range of assay technologies that can be performed in formats similar to that of a strip test. In this paper, we review progress toward development of disposable, low-cost, easy-to-use microfluidics-based diagnostics that require no instrument at all. We also present examples of microfluidic functional elements--including mixers, separators, and detectors--as well as complete microfluidic devices that function entirely without any moving parts and external power sources.

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